VATICAN — Pope Benedict XVI said the Bible can help clarify the true meaning of being a father during his general audience today.
“Despite the crisis of fatherhood in many societies, the Scriptures show us clearly what it means to call God ‘Father,’” he said Jan. 30 at the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.
“For those who have had the experience of an overly authoritarian and inflexible father or an indifferent, uncaring, or even absent one, it is not easy to calmly think of God as a father or to confidently surrender themselves to him,” he told the crowd.
Pope Benedict pointed out that “it isn’t always easy today to speak about fatherhood, and, not having adequate role models, it even becomes problematic to imagine God as a father.”
“But a biblical revelation helps us to overcome these difficulties by telling us about a God who shows us what it truly means to be a father,” the Pontiff said.
According to the Pope, “It is the Gospel above all that reveals to us this face of God as a father who loves us, even to the point of giving us the gift of his Son for the salvation of humanity.”
“Jesus reveals God as a merciful father who never abandons his children and whose loving concern for us embraces even the cross,” he said.
The Pope’s reflections were part of a weekly series on faith, which he will continue during the Year of Faith. Today’s teachings were drawn from the Creed’s description of God as “the Father almighty.”
“In Christ, God has made us his adopted sons and daughters, and the cross shows us also how God our Father is almighty,” he stated.
The Pontiff noted that “God is infinitely generous, faithful and forgiving and that he so loves the world that he has given us his only Son for our salvation.”
He explained that God's omnipotence transcends the limited human concepts of power.
“His might is that of a patient love expressed in the ultimate victory of goodness over evil, life over death and freedom over the bondage of sin,” he said.
God’s omnipotence, the Pope noted, is not expressed in violence or destruction, but through love, mercy and forgiveness.
It is expressed through his tireless call to a change of heart, through an attitude that is only weak in appearance and which is made of patience, clemency and love.
“God, to whom all things belong because he made them all, reveals his strength by loving everything and everyone, patiently awaiting our conversion, because he wants us as his children,” Pope Benedict reflected.
“As we contemplate the cross of Christ,” he concluded, “let us turn to God the almighty Father and implore the grace to abandon ourselves with confidence and trust to his merciful love and his saving power.”